Tags Posts tagged with "Michelle LaBozzetta"

Michelle LaBozzetta

By Heidi Sutton

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, especially at Theatre Three in Port Jefferson. While Scrooge undergoes a transformation on the Main Stage with A Christmas Carol, Barnaby the Elf is busy making sure all the Christmas presents are delivered on time in the adorable children’s musical, Barnaby Saves Christmas. The show opened last Saturday and runs through Dec. 30. 

Written over 18 years ago by Douglas Quattrock and Jeffrey Sanzel with music and lyrics by Quattrock, it remains  as relevant as ever with the ultimate message that “every day is a golden opportunity to be better than you used to be.”

It’s Christmas Eve and Santa’s workshop at the North Pole is a flurry of activity. Head elf Sam (Josie McSwane) and fellow elves Blizzard (Michelle LaBozzetta) and Crystal (Kaitlyn Jehle) are busy putting the final touches on the Christmas presents and loading them on the sleigh. A fourth elf, Barnaby (Ryan Worrell), is the newest trainee and has been given one task by Santa (Sean Amato) — to make a little stuffed bear with dark blue pants, buckles on his shoes and a bright yellow vest. 

When it’s time to deliver the presents to all the good little girls and boys, Barnaby is left behind with Mrs. Claus (Danielle Pafundi). He soon realizes that Santa has left the stuffed bear behind and convinces Blizzard’s fawn Franklynne (Samantha Fierro) to find Santa and “save Christmas.”   

On their adventure they crash land on the roof of the house of Sarah (Danielle Pafundi) and her nephew Andrew (Sean Amato) and learn all about Hanukkah and the Festival of Lights. They also come across S.B. (spoiled brat) Dombulbury (Steven Uihlein), a Scrooge in his own right who has stuffed up all the chimneys with coal with his partner in crime Irving (Jason Furnari), in order to ruin Christmas and has hypnotized Crystal and Blizzard to help him. With the help of his friends, Barnaby will save the day but just wait until you see how!

Directed by Sanzel, the entire cast does an incredible job telling this heartwarming story. The wonderful songs, accompanied on piano by Quattrock, are just lovely, with special mention to Worrell’s solo “Still With a Ribbon on Top,” Pafundi’s solo “Miracles” and Amato’s solo “Within Our Hearts.”

Gorgeous costumes that sparkle and shine for the holidays by Jason Allyn, the incredible lighting by Steven Uihlein and the great choreography by Sari Feldman tie it all together with a beautiful holiday bow. I can think of 100 reasons to go see this show but I will only give the first — it is an unforgettable experience the entire family will love. Elf and reindeer souvenirs will be sold before the show and during intermission and the entire cast will be in the lobby after the show for photos.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson presents Barnaby Saves Christmas on Nov. 26, Dec. 3, 10, 17, 24, 28, 29 and 20 at 11 a.m. Children’s theater continues with The House That Jack Built from Jan. 21 to Feb. 4, 2023 and Dorothy’s Adventures in Oz from Feb. 22 to March 18, 2023. All seats are only $10. To order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

Clockwise from back row left, Ginger Dalton, Stephanie Moreau, Christine N. Boehm, Marci Bing, Linda May and Michelle LaBozzetta. Photo by Steven Uihlein/Theatre Three Productions, Inc.

By Tara Mae

“Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.”

This famous line from Robert Harling’s Steel Magnolias embodies the ethos of the comedy-drama, which is Theatre Three’s next Mainstage production, opening on April 9.

Spanning three years in the lives of a group of Southern women, the play explores how the depth of their bonds sustain them through triumphs and tragedies. Harling wrote the play in 1985 as a way of processing his sister’s death and paying homage to the women from his childhood. It was later adapted into an award-winning film starring Sally Field, Julia Roberts, Shirley MacLaine, Dolly Parton, Olympia Dukakis and Daryl Hannah.

Unlike the film version, the play exists strictly in the world of women, featuring female characters with the male characters only referenced through dialogue. 

“Working with an all-female cast was absolutely wonderful, and we all talked about how we connected to material both as mothers and daughters. I love that in this show every single person is integral to the play, and it really celebrates the strengths of these women and the beauty of their souls and personalities,” said director Mary Powers. 

Starring Stephanie Moreau (Truvy), Christine N. Boehm (Annelle), Marci Bing (Clairee), Michelle LaBozzetta (Shelby), Linda May (M’Lynn), and Ginger Dalton (Ouiser), Steel Magnolias is a personal favorite of Artistic Director Jeffrey Sanzel, who first saw the play when it debuted off-Broadway in 1987.

“I believe it is an absolutely perfect play. Very few plays are as well constructed as Steel Magnolias. It is one of the top ten theater experiences of my life. I do not think there is one moment that is false or one moment that does not work. This is the second time we have done it…and we felt it was time to bring it back for our 50th season,” Sanzel said. 

Unfortunately, the 50th anniversary season (2019-2020), designed to showcase some of the of the theater’s most revered productions, was cut short due to the pandemic lockdown.  The cast was completing the rehearsal process and preparing to open the show when the world around it abruptly shut down, and  the show was postponed. After a two-year delay, rehearsals resumed in February of 2022.

“We were very committed to the project. We thoroughly enjoyed the rehearsal process the first time around and were all very invested in coming back, which everyone did,” Powers said. “We kept our schedules clear for that time. It was like riding a bike; one rehearsal and we were back to where we had been with the exact same casting, exact same roles. Nothing changed at all. We all had our scripts and got to work. We get along so well, and the cast and crew are a delight to work with.” 

Interpersonal, emotional connections onstage are reflected in the dynamic between the actresses, who also kept in touch with Powers and Sanzel during the hiatus. 

“One of the best feelings I’ve had thus far was at our read through this year. Finally being together again, hearing everyone’s voices, laughing and crying as we read was such a unique experience and I’ll cherish it forever,” said LaBozzetta. 

The dedication to the material, its message, and each other are highlights of the process, according to Bing, who played the role of M’Lynn in Theatre Three’s production in the 1990s. “We have a strong connection onstage as well as offstage. I love the whole group, which makes it easy to connect,” she said. 

For LaBozzetta, after the interrupted pre-production process, opening the show is a relief. “I am most looking forward to finally having an audience! We’ve been having so much fun in rehearsals and I just cannot wait to share what we’ve created.”

Theatre Three, 412 Main Street, Port Jefferson presents Steel Magnolias from April 7 to May 9. Tickets are $35 adults, $28 seniors and students, $20 for children ages 5 and up. For more information, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

By Heidi Sutton

Every five years or so, Theatre Three’s Children’s Theatre reaches into its vault filled with scripts and pulls out a gem. This time it’s a musical twist on the classic story of Puss In Boots. The show opened on Jan. 16.

Although there have been many versions of the European fairy tale over the centuries, the most well known is The Master Cat or Puss in Boots from The Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault in 1697. When Puss was reintroduced in Shrek 2 in 2004, a whole new generation was smitten.

Now the clever ‘tail’ returns to Theatre Three’s MainStage with a fresh score and choreography and does not disappoint. Written by Jeffrey Sanzel and Douglas J. Quattrock, the show was first performed in 1991 and has withstood the test of time.  

In the kingdom of King Vexmus, a kind-hearted young man named Christopher lives on a farm with his father and his two brothers, Shank and Amos. Every day his brothers force him to work the fields while they take naps. When their father dies, Shank and Amos inherit the farm while Christopher gets his father’s cat Puss and is promptly kicked out. 

With no food, money or a place to live, Christopher begins to lose hope until he discovers that Puss can talk. He confides in the cat that he has fallen in love with the king’s beautiful daughter, Princess Anafazia, who he met briefly when her entourage drove past the farm (in a great flashback scene). Puss agrees to help in the name of love and hatches a scheme to have Christopher pose as the rich and mysterious Marquis of Carabas to win Anafazia’s heart. Will everything go as planned? Will there be a happy ending?

Directed by Sanzel, the fast-paced show is wonderful on so many levels. Steven Uihlein is perfectly cast in the role of Christopher and also serves as storyteller. His plight gains the sympathy of the audience right away. Liam Marsigliano and Jason Furnari make a great comedic team as Amos and Shank. Their futile attempt to farm the land after Christopher leaves is hilarious. 

Michelle LaBozzetta, in the role of Puss, the cat of all trades, steals the show with her energetic and flamboyant personality. In one of the cutest scenes, her character acquires her famous boots by causing a ruckus outside Shank and Amos’s door. 

Sanzel and Josie McSwane are excellent in the roles of the bickering King Vexmus and Queen Ida (or should I say Queen Ida and King Vexmus) who in the end agree to disagree. Haley Saunders is terrific as the spoiled Princess Anafazia, who quickly reveals that this royal’s beauty is only skin deep. Rachel Max as Ida and Louisa Bikowski as Missy, the no nonsense wives of Shank and Amos, and Heather Rose Kuhn as the sweet Julia, Princess Anafazia’s lady-in-waiting, are a fine supporting cast.

Choreographed by Sari Feldman and accompanied on piano by Douglas Quattrock, the 12 musical numbers are the heart of the show, with special mention to the duets “Puss in Boots” with Puss and Christopher and “Take a Moment for Yourself” with Puss and Julia, and the lively group number, “Song of the Marquis of Carabas.”

The charming costumes, designed by Jason Allyn, from the royal gowns in shades of lavender complete with wigs and crowns to the peasant garb in hues of brown, tie the story together perfectly. And wait until you see Puss’s fierce and fabulous outfit! 

This special show doesn’t come around often. Catch a performance before it’s gone.

Running time is one hour and 20 minutes with a 15 minute intermission. Meet the entire cast in the lobby on your way out for a keepsake photo.

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Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson presents Puss In Boots on Jan. 22, 29 and Feb. 5 at 11 a.m. and Jan. 23 at 3 p.m. Children’s theatre continues with Dorothy’s Adventures In Oz from Feb. 23 to March 26 with a sensory friendly performance on Feb. 27 and The Adventures of Peter Rabbit from April 16 to May 7 with a sensory friendly performance on April 24. All seats are $10. For more information or to order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com

 

 

By Barbara Anne Kirshner

Main Streets all across our great nation are home to local theatres with their sparkling neon lights inviting us in to enjoy the enchantment of musicals, comedies and dramas. However last March, due to an unprecedented pandemic that forced the entire world to shut down, theatres suddenly fell into darkness, becoming specters of their former selves. But recently one by one those extinguished lights were turned back on once more illuminating Main Streets as they proudly announce the resurrection of live theatre.

Theatre Three, housed in that distinguished 160-year-old historic building in Port Jefferson, reopened its Mainstage doors on July 16th with the heartwarming fan favorite, The Fantasticks.

Kudos to Jeff Sanzel for celebrating the comeback of live theatre with this much loved classic. We need to escape into an endearing romantic musical right now and Theatre Three delivers. The message of The Fantasticks, that we can all survive and grow, is especially meaningful as we rise once more from a world ravaged by.

This allegorical tale is loosely based on the 1894 play The Romancers (Les Romantiques) by Edmond Rostand. Tom Jones (libretto and lyrics) and Harvey Schmidt (music) created a show that holds the distinction of being the world’s longest running musical having premiered at the Sullivan Street Playhouse off-Broadway on May 3, 1960 accumulating 17,162 performances before it closed on January 13, 2002, after 42 years. A revival opened August 23, 2006 at The Theater Center off-Broadway where it ran through June 4, 2017. 

Simplicity accompanied by theatricality are key elements to The Fantasticks and are exquisitely displayed through the light romance of a girl and the boy next door against a backdrop of minimal set by Randall Parsons with a small platform, two benches, two trunks, streetlight and a piano. Lighting design by Robert Henderson, Jr. helps create the intimacy, the magical moonlight and the reality that comes with the sun. 

Director Jeffrey Sanzel has assembled a versatile cast with actors called upon to not only sing, dance and act but play musical instruments.

Steve McCoy is captivating as the swashbuckling narrator El Gallo who weaves an irresistible spell immersing us in this timeless tale. With the beautifully melodic and pivotal song “Try to Remember,” he entreats us to return to a time of innocence   “When life was slow and oh, so mellow” and if we remember then “follow, follow, follow.” He is the conjurer creating romance, then mischief.

The Mute portrayed by Michelle LaBozzetta provides the only concrete tones to this intentionally abstract show. She is the wall separating the houses; she gracefully throws confetti into the air representing the change of seasons and she passes out props.

Meg Bush as Luisa/The Girl with her operettic soprano in addition to her ability to play both the flute and guitar is unique. Her Luisa personifies innocence. She is the dreamer, the moonstruck girl who pleads, “I am special. Please, God, please, don’t let me be normal.” We can’t help but empathize. Matthew Hoffman as Matthew/The Boy with his resonant tenor adds a depth of emotion to Jone’s lyrics. His seductive saxophone embraces Schmidt’s jazzy score.

Kyle Imperatore as Bellamy/The Girl’s Father and Jeffrey Hoffman, Hucklebee/The Boy’s Father give delightfully comedic performances as their pretense of a feud tricks their children into falling in love. Hoffman is a multi-talented force who smoothly transforms from musical conductor and pianist to Hucklebee and back again. 

The fathers know all too well that the feud must appear to finally come to an end. They enlist El Gallo to “kidnap” Luisa so Matt can be her hero by rescuing her. To assist in staging this first class abduction, El Gallo calls upon The Old Actor (Henry) played by Jeffrey Sanzel and his sidekick, The Man Who Dies (Mortimer) played by Steven Uihlein. Their antics are so much fun the moment they climb out of their costume box.

It is interesting to note that Tom Jones played the role of The Old Actor in the original Off-Broadway production and in the 2006 revival Jones recreated the role in addition to directing as Sanzel is doing in this production.

Chakira Doherty’s costumes help to reinforce the mood from Luisa’s floating dress emphasizing the innocent, dream-like quality to El Gallo’s dashing long black coat. Sari Feldman’s choreography supplies the right touch of theatricality particularly in the frenzied “The Abduction Ballet” and the frenetic “Round and Round.”

Theatre Three’s production of The Fantasticks is charming and entertaining with catchy songs that you leave the theatre singing.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson presents The Fantasticks on Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. through Aug. 15. Tickets are $35 adults, $28 seniors and students, $20 children ages 5 to 12. For more information or to order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

By Heidi Sutton

When the Brothers Grimm published their Children’s and Household Tales in 1812, they probably had no idea that stories such as the cautionary Hansel and Gretel, would have such staying power. While Disney hasn’t gotten its hold on it yet, the folk tale has held its own over the years, most famously through opera (by composer Engelbert Humperdinck), and with recent revivals on the big screen (Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters and the even darker Gretel & Hansel). 

Now Theatre Three takes us back into the forest for a light-hearted and funny original retelling of Hansel and Gretel with a big surprise at the end that’s sure to satisfy every child’s sweet tooth. 

Written by Jeffrey Sanzel and Douglas Quattrock, with a brand new score by Quattrock, it follows Hansel and Gretel who are living with their father, a woodcutter, and detached stepmother. The family is starving and the stepmother blames the children. She gives her husband an ultimatum: “Either dump them in the forest or dump them in the forest!” The children overhear and gather white rocks to guide them back home. When her plan fails, the stepmother takes the reins and leads them back into the forest. This time Hansel leaves a trail of breadcrumbs (he eats the rocks by mistake) and the children become lost. 

As Gretel goes to find a path home, Hansel is kidnapped by Scrimshaw and Harvis, henchmen working for a child-eating witch who lives in a candy house. The witch promptly gets to work fattening Hansel up with cake, cookies and donuts. When Gretel trys to rescue him, the witch puts her to work cooking and cleaning. When the witch gets too close to the oven, Gretel has a decision to make. Will she push her in or find another way to get out of this mess?

Jeffrey Sanzel directs a brilliant adult cast of six in this delightful retelling of the beloved story. While the story of Hansel and Gretel isn’t all lollipops and gumdrops — after all, there is a wicked witch who preys on children — there are no scary moments in the show and everyone learns a lesson about the importance of family.  Nicole Bianco is perfectly cast in the dual role of stepmother and witch and delivers her lines softly, albeit sarcastically (“These kids are monsters!”), and never raises her voice. Her opening solo, “Stepmother’s Lament,” is hilarious.

Michelle LaBozzetta as Gretel and Eric J. Hughes as Hansel give standout performances. LaBozzetta’s character is strong-willed, confident and brave while Hughes plays a  carefree, clueless and sweet little brother. Their duets, “Stones Along the Way” and “Hansel’s Dinner” are perfectly executed. Steven Uihlein in the unpopular role of the father who goes along with his wife’s plans, does a fine job, as always. His character’s guilt in his solo “Lost” and at the end of the show is palpable. 

Although not part of the original story, Darren Bruce Clayton and Ryan Worrell, in the role of Scrimshaw and Harvis, entertain the audience by incorporating the Charleston, ballet and hip hop in their dance numbers, “Out of Step” and “Harvis and Scrimshaw.” What a treat!

The end result is a charming and imaginative production of Hansel and Gretel that should be added on your family’s to do list. Stay for a meet and greet with the cast in the lobby after the show.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson presents Hansel and Gretel on March 7, 14 and 21 at 11 a.m. and March 15 at 3 p.m. with a sensory-sensitive performance on March 8 at 11 a.m. Children’s Theater continues with The Adventures of Peter Rabbit from April 8 to 25 and Snow White and the Seven Dwarves from May 23 to June 6. All seats are $10. To order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

Photos by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions, Inc.

By Heidi Sutton

One of Theatre Three’s most important offerings, in my opinion, is its children’s theatre series. Each show teaches a moral lesson — don’t lie, don’t steal, don’t be a bully — while introducing young audiences to live musical retellings of wonderful fairy tales including “Cinderella,” “Pinocchio,” “Hansel & Gretel” and its latest offering, “Little Red Riding Hood: A Tale of Safety for Today.” The adorable show opened last Saturday and runs through Feb. 22. 

While it follows the Brothers Grimm version closely, the story is used as a tool to teach “stranger danger” in a most effective way. Written by Jeffrey Sanzel and Kevin F. Story, the musical centers around a little girl named Amanda Sally Desdemona Estella Barbara Temple, although everyone in town calls her Little Red Riding Hood because she always wears the red cape her Granny Beckett made for her. 

When her grandmother sends Little Red Riding Hood’s mother a letter complaining “no one ever comes to visit. I might as well get eaten by a wolf!,” Amanda and her twin sisters, Blanche and Nora, head over the river and through the woods to bring her some Girl Scout cookies. Halfway there, Little Red Riding Hood tells her sisters to go back home because Nora is nursing a terrible cold. Now alone, she encounters a stranger (William “Billy” de Wolf) and commits a series of safety mistakes, placing her grandmother and herself in a dangerous situation.

Director Jeffrey Sanzel leads an adult cast of six who have the best time acting out this clever script.

Steven Uihlein serves as storyteller and does a terrific job introducing each scene, giving his own opinions and interrupting the show when he deems it necessary. Uihlein also plays numerous supporting roles, including a policeman, doctor and mailman.

Nicole Bianco is perfectly cast as Little Red Riding Hood, although she does love saying her long name a bit too much! Lol! Krystal Lawless tackles the challenging role of the forgetful Mrs. Temple with ease. Constantly mixing up her children’s names and attempting to make a cup of tea for Nora out of feathers, wrenches, sticky notes, etc. she draws the most laughs. 

Kyle Breitenbach has much fun in the role of the Wolf, who is all bark and no bite. Special effects make his stomach rumble and he is always asking the audience if they have any steak or a bone on hand. One of the best scenes is when the Wolf chases Granny Beckett around the bed, and when she steps away, he goes around many times more before he realizes she’s gone.

Michelle LaBozzetta has the most exhausting role in the show, skipping on stage as Blanche, turning the corner and reappearing as her twin sister Nora, hunched over and suffering from a cold. What a workout! LaBozzetta is so convincing that young children will not make the connection. 

But it’s Ginger Dalton as Granny Beckett who steals the show. Dripping with sarcasm, she pulls out all the stops to try to get her family to visit her and even fakes getting sick. Her solo, “Who’s at My Door?,” is superb.  

During the last 10 minutes of the show, the actors discuss the safety mistakes that Little Red Riding Hood made, including talking to strangers and giving out her grandmother’s address, and what she should have done instead.

The musical numbers, accompanied on piano by Douglas Quattrock, are fun and catchy, especially “Little Red Riding Hood” and the tap dance number “To Granny Beckett’s House We Go.”

The great story line, the wonderful songs and the important message it conveys makes this show a perfect reason to catch a performance. Meet the entire cast in the lobby after the show for photos.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson presents “Little Red Riding Hood: A Tale of Safety for Today” is for ages 3 and up through Feb. 22. Children’s Theatre continues with “Hansel & Gretel” from Feb. 29 to March 21, “The Adventures of Peter Rabbit” from April 8 to 25 and “Snow White & the 7 Dwarfs” from May 23 to June 6. Tickets are $10 each. For more information or to order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

Photos by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions, Inc.

By Heidi Sutton

While Ebenezer Scrooge undergoes a transformation on Theatre Three’s Mainstage in “A Christmas Carol,” Santa’s littlest elf Barnaby experiences a metamorphosis of his own in the theater’s adorable children’s production of “Barnaby Saves Christmas.” The show runs through Dec. 28.

With a clever script by Douglas J. Quattrock and Jeffrey Sanzel with music and lyrics by Quattrock, the holiday production teaches us that Christmas lies within our hearts.

It’s Christmas Eve and the North Pole is a flurry of activity. Barnaby (Eric J. Hughes), the littlest elf in Elf School, is busy making a toy that Santa (Andrew Lenahan) requested — a little stuffed bear with dark blue pants, buckles on his shoes and a bright yellow vest — while desperately trying to fit in. His constant attempts to be helpful fail, as he knocks down presents, bumps into fellow elves Blizzard (Krystal Lawless), Crystal (Nicole Bianco) and Sam (Jason Furnari) and makes a big mess.

When it’s time to deliver the presents to all the good little girls and boys, Barnaby and Blizzard’s fawn, Franklynne (Michelle LaBozzetta), are left behind with Mrs. Claus (Lorrie Maida). “You’ll have to wait to grow a little bit,” explains Sam. Barnaby soon realizes that Santa has left the stuffed bear behind and convinces Franklynne to embark on a journey to find Santa and “save Christmas.”   

On their adventure they crash land on the roof of the house of Sarah (Lorrie Maida) and her nephew Andrew (Andrew Lenahan) and learn all about Hanukkah and the Festival of Lights. They also come across S.B. (spoiled brat) Dombulbury (Steven Uihlein), a Scrooge in his own right who has stuffed up all the chimneys with coal with his partner in crime Irma (Dana Bush), in order to ruin Christmas. Yes, Barnaby will save the day — as evident in the title — but just wait until you see how!

Directed by Sanzel, the cast perfectly executes this beautiful story. The wonderful songs, accompanied on piano by Quattrock, are the heart of the show, with special mention to “Still With a Ribbon on Top” and “Within Our Hearts.”

Costumes by Teresa Matteson and Toni St. John are colorful and festive and the choreography by Nicole Bianco is fresh and fun. Special effects abound, elevated by the futuristic lighting and, spoiler alert, it even snows in the theater!

With the ultimate message to be the very best that you can be, “Barnaby Saves Christmas” is a must see this holiday season.

Souvenir elf and reindeer dolls will be available for purchase during intermission. Stay after the show for a photo keepsake with Santa Claus on stage if you wish — the $5 donation supports the theater’s scholarship fund — and join the rest of the cast in the lobby for a meet and greet.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson presents “Barnaby Saves Christmas” through Dec. 28. Children’s Theater continues with “Little Red Riding Hood” from Jan. 18 to Feb. 22 and “Hansel & Gretel” from Feb. 29 to March 21. All seats are $10. To order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

All photos by Peter Lanscombe/Theatre Three Productions Inc.

By Heidi Sutton

As one of the country’s most beloved holidays draws near, Theatre Three gets into the act with Halloween treats of its own. While the theater thrills and chills on the Mainstage with “Jekyll & Hyde,” its Children’s Theatre offers “A Kooky Spooky Halloween,” the adorable tale of a ghost who is afraid of the dark. Written by Jeffrey Sanzel and Steve McCoy, the musical, which runs through Oct. 26, is the perfect way to kick off the spookiest of seasons.

A friendly ghost named Abner Perkins (played by Steven Uihlein) has just graduated from Haunting High School. With a diploma and a medallion of invisibility in hand, his first assignment is to become the spooksperson for Ma Aberdeen’s Boarding House, famously known the world over for being the most haunted house in Harrison County U.S.A. and for serving the best toast. There are only two rules he has to follow — he can only haunt at night and he can’t lose the medallion or he’ll be seen by the living.

Abner confides to his best friend Lavinda the witch (Michelle LaBozzetta) that he has an uncontrollable fear of the dark and, after a bit of teasing (“That’s like a vampire who’s afraid of necks!”), she gifts him a night-light and promises to assist him with his haunting duties for the first few weeks. When they arrive at the boarding house, they find Ma Aberdeen (Ginger Dalton), the finest toast maker in the land, and her guests in the kitchen stuffing treat bags for Halloween.

We meet Kit Garret (Nicole Bianco) who “just came from a small town to a big city with a suitcase in my hand and hope in my heart” and can’t wait to try Ma Aberdeen’s famous toast. We also meet the Petersons — Paul the periodontist (Andrew Lenahan), his wife Penelope (Krystal Lawless) and their son Pip (Eric J. Hughes) — who have the most curious habit of using words that start with the letter P in every sentence.

When Pip puts on a pumpkin pullover and proceeds to tell pumpkin jokes (see what I did there?), Abner casts a speed spell on the group, making them spin like a top, do jumping jacks and walk like a duck in double time, and then, straight out of a scene from “The Golden Goose,” has them stick to each other “like birds of a feather.”

Just as he is about to undo the spell, fellow graduate and ghost with a grudge Dora Pike (Beth Ladd) shows up and steals Abner’s night-light and medallion of invisibility and hides them in Black Ridge Gulch, the deepest, darkest gorge in the entire world. Now visible, Abner has to convince the boarders, who are still stuck to each other in “an unprecedented predicament,” to help him and Lavinda get his property back. What follows is a hilarious adventure that highlights the power of honesty, determination and friendship.

Directed by Jeffrey Sanzel, the eight-member adult cast embraces the brilliant script and presents a hauntingly fun afternoon both children and parents will love. Accompanied on piano by Douglas Quattrock with choreography by Nicole Bianco, the song and dance numbers are fun and catchy with special mention to the rap “A Need for Speed” by Abner and Lavinda and the group number, “It’s Ma Who Makes the Toast.” Costumes by Teresa Matteson and Toni St. John are spot on, from the Peterson’s black and orange outfits to the spooky white garbs for the ghosts. And wait until you see the special effects!

Souvenir cat, pumpkin, vampire and ghost dolls will be available for purchase before the show and during intermission for $5. Meet the cast in the lobby for photos on your way out.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson will present “A Kooky Spooky Halloween” on Oct. 12, 19 and 26 at 11 a.m. and Oct. 20 at 3 p.m. Running time is 1 hour and 15 minutes with one intermission, and Halloween costumes are encouraged. Children’s theater continues with “Barnaby Saves Christmas,” from Nov. 23 to Dec. 28. All seats are $10. To order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

By Heidi Sutton

tale of redemption, an epic battle of good and evil, teen romance, the bonds of friendship — these topics and more will be explored as Theatre Three celebrates 50 years of “Broadway on Main Street” with a revival of the six most popular shows in the theater’s history.

The season opens with a thrilling and chilling adaption of “Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical” by Paul Hadobas with book and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and music by Frank Wildhorn featuring additional songs like “I Need to Know” and additional material which were cut from the original Broadway show.

Jeffrey Sanzel, who directed the theater’s 2005 production, returns to the helm to create a beautifully haunting show that is not to be missed.

Based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1886 gothic novella, “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” the classic story follows Dr. Henry Jekyll’s ill-fated quest to find a cure for his father’s mental illness. Years of experiments have produced a chemical formula that Jekyll is convinced can “separate the good and evil” from the human soul … “to help the tortured mind of man.” All he needs is a human test subject.

When his request to inject the formula into a patient at a mental hospital is turned down by the Board of Governors, a decision they will later regret, Jekyll feels he has no choice but to experiment on himself. The noble attempt to help those that cannot help themselves backfires and gives life to an evil alter ego, Edward Hyde, who terrorizes the citizens of London after dark.

From the moment Hyde makes an appearance, he seeks revenge for Jekyll and methodically hunts down the members of the Board of Governors and with a crack of the neck or a stab in the side they fall one by one. Jekyll remembers little of the murders, praying “they are merely nightmares,” but eventually Hyde “comes out of the shadows” and becomes an addiction, causing Jekyll to lose self-control in an emotional climactic ending.

In his Theatre Three debut, Alan Stentiford is simply incredible in the dual role of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The actor’s transition from respected doctor to psychotic madman will make the tiny hairs on the back of your neck stand up. After each injection, the actor morphs into a rabid creature who slinks and lurks about in the dark, peering out through his unkempt hair with wild eyes. And wait until you hear him sing! Stentiford’s split-personality faceoff in “Confrontation” is mesmorizing and his opening night performance of “This Is the Moment” brought the house down.

Tamralynn Dorsa plays Jekyll’s loving and always supportive fiancée Emma Carew. Dorsa shines in this angelic role and her rendition of “Once Upon a Dream” is magical.

TracyLynn Conner is equally impressive as prostitute Lucy Harris who Jekyll befriends during a visit to the seedy drinking establishment, The Red Rat. It is her that Hyde visits the most often until his jealousy consumes him. Her emotional performance of “No One Knows You I Am” is wonderful.

Another standout in the show is Steven Uihlein in the role of Simon Stride, a former boyfriend of Carew, who has made it his personal mission to see Jekyll fail at every turn. Andrew Lenahan is also one to watch. As John Utterson, Jekyll’s friend and attorney, Lenahan gives a brilliant performance in “His Work and Nothing More.”

The beautiful costumes and wigs by Chakira Doherty meld perfectly with the evocative choreography by Nicole Bianco and the Victorian set, designed by Randall Parsons features Dr. Jekyll’s laboratory. Kudos also to musical director Jeffrey Hoffman, whose seven-piece orchestra keeps perfect pace and tune.

Jeffrey Sanzel has assembled an incredible cast and crew to kick off the theater’s golden anniversary and they all deserve a big round of applause. Happy anniversary Theatre Three! It’s time to relish the well-deserved spotlight.

The cast of ‘Jekyll & Hyde’: Melanie Acampora, Bryan Bowie, TracyLynn Conner, Dennis Creighton, Anthony D’Amore, Lindsay DeFranco, Tamralynn Dorsa, Emily Gates, Eric J. Hughes, Heather Kuhn, Michelle LaBozzetta, Krystal Lawless, Andrew Lenahan, George Liberman, Linda May, Stephanie Moreau, Douglas Quattrock, Jim Sluder, Alan Stentiford, James Taffurelli, Briana Ude, Steven Uihlein, and Ryan Worrell

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson presents “Jeykll & Hyde: The Musical” through Oct. 26. Contains adult themes and situations. The 2019-20 Mainstage season continues with Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” from Nov. 16 to Dec. 28, “Driving Miss Daisy” from Jan. 11 to Feb. 1, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” from Feb. 15 to March 21, “Steel Magnolias” from April 4 to May 2 and “Grease” from May 16 to June 21. Tickets are $35 adults, $28 seniors and students, $20 children ages 5 to 12. For more information or to order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

 

By Heidi Sutton

For too short a time, the classic tale of “Pinocchio” comes to life on Theatre Three’s stage in a most magical way. While most are familiar with Walt Disney’s 1940 animated feature, Theatre Three’s original retelling, written by Jeffrey Sanzel and Douglas J. Quattrock, is suggested from the 1883 children’s novel, “The Adventures of Pinocchio,” by Carlo Collodi.

Annabelle the Fairy (Krystal Lawless) has spent two centuries trying to earn her magic wand so that she can fly. Summoned before Ondine, the good and righteous Queen of the Fairies (Ginger Dalton), she is given one last chance to prove her worth or she has to leave the land of the fairies forever. 

Matt Hoffman and Steven Uihlein in a scene from ‘Pinocchio’

Teaming up with Cassandra the Magic Cricket (Michelle LaBozzetta), she is tasked with getting Geppetto (Steven Uihlein), a miserable and lonely woodcarver (think Scrooge), to care about people the same way he cares about wood.

Annabelle decides to cast a spell on the wood, making it talk, and Geppetto is inspired to carve it into a wooden boy he names Pinocchio (Matt Hoffman). Things go sour quickly as Pinocchio constantly misbehaves; so Annabelle casts another spell on him where his nose grows every time he tells a lie.

However, when Pinocchio gets mixed up with con artists Ferdinand Fox (Emily Gates), Carpacious Cat (Nicole Bianco) and Ranklin Rat (C.J. Russo) and is tricked into giving them all of Geppetto’s money, things go from bad to worse. Will Annabelle ever get her wings? Will Ferdinand, Carpacious and Ranklin get their comeuppance? Will Pinocchio ever become a real boy? 

Jeff Sanzel skillfully directs a cast of eight adult actors who take this delightful tale and run with it. There’s a lot to cover in an hour and a half, but the story flows nicely and keeps the audience at the edge of their seats.

The three troublemakers!

The musical numbers, accompanied on piano by Doug Quattrock, are lighthearted and entertaining, from “Lovely Thoughts” by Annabelle to “Bad Harmony” by the trio of con artists, to the wonderful “The Festival El Grande.” Choreography by Nicole Bianco fits the story perfectly and the costumes by Teresa Matteson and Toni St. John are sweet and fun.

There are so many special moments in this show, made even grander thanks to the addition of 40 children from the theater’s summer acting camp who play various extras including fairies and townspeople. 

Much to the delight of the young audience, the actors utilize the aisles often and special effects are around every corner. Annabelle and Cassandra hide under a magic umbrella that deems them invisible, Pinocchio’s nose really grows and wait until you see what falls from the ceiling at the end! Theatre Three has taken a story that is over 130 years old and given it new life. Grab the kids and catch a performance of “Pinocchio.” They will love you for it.

Souvenir fairy wands are sold for $10. Meet the cast in the lobby after the show.

Theatre Three, located at 412 Main St. in Port Jefferson, presents “Pinocchio” through Aug. 10. Children’s Theatre continues with “A Kooky Spooky Halloween” from Oct. 5 to 26 and “Barnaby Saves Christmas” from Nov. 23 to Dec. 28. All seats are $10. For more information or to order, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

See more photos from the show online at www.tbrnewsmedia.com.